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Ah, the fighting game. One of the oldest genres there is. There’s loads of fighting games to choose from, and many of them come from some of the most recognized franchises in all of gaming. From Street Fighter to Soulcalibur and from Mortal Kombat to Streets of Rage. With so many options, why would anyone decide to play Mad Streets? I’m not sure since the game is a bit of a janky mess.
Created by Craftshop Arts Inc., Mad Streets is a physics-based brawler. Now, before I start comparing it to other fighting games, it’s worth noting that it is listed as a party game. To its credit, that is when Mad Streets is the most fun. Playing with one, two, or three other people makes the game much more enjoyable. Mostly due to the unpredictable nature of the game’s wacky, ragdoll-ish physics.
Attempting to coordinate with friends in PvE is good for a few laughs as you all struggle to walk or attack the correct target, and some of the little cooperative minigames can make for pretty memorable moments as well. One example is when we were tasked with moving football equipment into a van, and I kept dragging my friends into the van instead. It’s a lighthearted, goofy bunch of nonsense that benefits from not taking itself too seriously.
However, goofy physics are Mad Streets’ only joke. A joke that is repeated over and over and over. After we got all of our initial laughs out, the game only became frustrating. Unresponsive movement in a game is inherently unfun. Whether it’s the point of the game or not, it isn’t a great time.
Playing the game solo is a much worse experience. The game’s story(?) mode sees you choosing one of a few different gangs and working through a series of fights and minigames. This can be done in couch co-op as well, and that’s certainly the only way it should be played. If you play it alone, you’re stuck with three AI teammates that ruin everything. They’re unhelpful in fights and they’re obstacles in minigames. Getting anything done feels impossible. Fights are the absolute worst since you and your three robotic chums are pitted against four enemies. The on-screen action is next to impossible to understand as seven AIs run around doing whatever they want. It is an unplayable nightmare.
Sure, if you want to go one-on-one against an AI for some solo action, that’s an option but only in the versus mode. You can’t unlock characters, minigames, or stages here, however. That stuff is all locked behind the obnoxious story mode. Those unlockable stages and minigames are nice, but pursuing the unlockable characters is a waste of time.
For starters, there are only two characters to unlock and you start the game with access to at least sixteen. The game’s tutorial tells you that each character has different special moves to use, but this is a half-truth. Characters can vary from one another in certain ways such as size, how they swing, and, yeah, the “special” moves, but the overwhelming majority of them barely feel any different. Those special moves of certain characters can be insanely broken, too. One of my friends immediately found a way to win every single fight so long as they spammed that move repeatedly. Though, perhaps that’s an indictment of the company I keep rather than the game.
While the characters are incredibly different visually, that’s not really worth celebrating since none of the character designs in the game are well done. In fact, none of the game’s visuals are exactly easy on the eyes. Each character has a dopey look frozen on their face, the physics-based nature of the game means there are literally zero appealing animations, color choices are poor, and the entire game has this odd fuzzy quality to it. It looks as if it’s a seventh console generation game that snuck its way into being released today.
There just isn’t that much to Mad Streets. You’ve seen everything it has to offer within the space of an hour. Playing with friends and laughing for a bit at the idea of “haha! That character fell down funny!” gets old insanely fast, and it does so even quicker when playing alone. Not to mention that even when you manage to make a hit connect in a way that you actually wanted it to, it’s as satisfying as wiping someone’s face with a rubber chicken. Combined with the game’s incredibly ugly visuals, this is one fighting game that reminds us there are much better brawlers to be played.
Hit up the Xbox Store to get in on the Mad Streets action